Thursday, April 18, 2013

Alligator!

The last couple of days the weather has been steamy, humid, and overcast here in Guangzhou. Each time I ventured outside I found myself dodging the brief showers that come and go. My only mode of transportation thus far are the feet and legs the good Lord gave me. By the time I reach the office my shirt is streaked with splotches of perspiration or polka-dotted by raindrops. Here, it's pretty much "one and done" as far as shirts go. You get to wear them once, and then it's time to stick them in the washer. BTW, I do have a washer!

During office hours I work with our team on getting the school off the ground. Evenings are given to researching different aspects of international education. Staying engaged in the work process  helps me deal with the feelings of loneliness--that I wish would leave me alone! A couple of times I have tried to watch something on our Amazon Prime link, but I have yet to find anything that holds my attention. Slowly, I am getting beyond the jet lag, although my energy level is much less than I am used to. By the time the wall clock shows 10 p.m. I am ready to hit the sack!

On the street below my second story apartment people are returning from work. Some, I know are walking at a brisk and energetic pace, because I can hear their footsteps clicking on the pavement long before I see them. Others are scuffling and dragging their feet revealing the fatigue and weariness of a long day. Tiny voices and shrieks of little children come to me like the surround-sound of a movie theater as they jabber away at one another. Across the way I can hear the rapid strokes of someone slicing and dicing the ingredients for their dinner on a cutting board. It makes me hungry!

Friday, Sandy flies to Boston to celebrate the Amazing Wyatt's first birthday! She bought a gift for my little buddy--especially from Grandpa! 

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Chomp & Clack Alligator Push Toy


Enjoying the Adventure,

Bill  

Monday, April 15, 2013

Blood Taken...Blood Given

Every day, as soon as I can,  I go online to check for messages on email and Facebook. Then I get on Skype with Sandy. On this side of the world it's Tuesday morning, and the news coming out of Boston and the Boston Marathon was tragic. Terrorism, in the form of bombs planted among the innocent, killed several and maimed dozens more. Stacy Blette, a good friend of our family, was one of the runners. We are thankful to our God that neither Stacy nor any of her family were injured.

After checking the news I got on Skype with Sandy. It was from Sandy that I learned our daughter, Meagan was a spectator at the marathon at mile twenty four. Standing along the route with hundreds of others, Meg chatted with a family that was there to cheer on one of the competitors, who also happened to be their dad, and their mom's husband. After talking to Meg, the young family hurried off to the finish line to see the finale. Meg stayed at mile twenty four. Meg said that family of innocents probably arrived at about the time of the explosion. We may never know if they were among the scores injured, or even worse among the fatalities.

As the reports come in we find out that some of the runners, physically exhausted from the race and spiritually and emotionally exhausted from the senseless brutality, made their way to area hospitals to give their blood to those whose blood was taken.

What a beautiful way to retaliate against meanness and cowardice and darkness...
What an example of courage and strength...
It is a response so courageous, so strong, so symbolic. "Take their blood. Yes you can, but I will give them mine..."

Enjoying the Adventure,

Bill

First Post From My Outpost

Through a freshly drilled hole about the size of a quarter, and just above my entry way, a thin white cable now enters my apartment. Starting today, I have access to the whole wide-world via the internet! This afternoon I spent several hours researching international schools and the development trends of Chinese education. I have started the ascent up a steep learning curve, but I am a happy expat!

As I tap away on my Mac I am sitting on a my little balcony on the second floor. Hordes of laborers have been swooshing their handmade rakes and cleaning the street that runs parallel to my building. Beige heaps of fallen leaves flecked with colorful shreds of trash is being scooped up and carted away. When they uncover a bottle amid the debris they smash it in the street, then sweep it up and then put it in carts. I so want to go down and ask them: first, why do you smash the bottles, and secondly, if you are going to smash the bottles why don't you save  time and just smash the bottles in the cart? But they must have their reasons for doing it in such a way. Also, even though no more than a couple of meters separates one worker from another they talk in raised voices. Sort of like they are trying to yell over the sound of a passing train. There is no train. There is very little background noise at all! They are cheerful, but sound harsh. It's just the nature of the language and culture.

My domicile is taking shape. It is quite spartan, but I will try to brighten it up a bit over the days and weeks ahead. I am surrounded by canines. To my right, and one floor beneath, my neighbors have a little dog that goes into yapping fits. Every time it does I think of a certain Seinfeld episode, and begin plotting an abduction and disappearance of the annoying little pooch. And talk about contrasts...to my left, and one floor beneath, my neighbors have a Doberman! Every morning he is let out to do his "business" and leaves a pile on the tile below so high two men couldn't shake hands over it!

Sandy and I are able to talk by Skype everyday, and I am able to stay in touch with my friends and family through FB. Jet lags numbing effects are beginning to wain, and my body and mind are getting in synch. Since arriving I have jumped from one project to another, so there hasn't been much opportunity to scout out the area for some photos, but that will happen soon.

Enjoying the Adventure,

Bill




Friday, April 12, 2013

The foxes have holes, and I have an apartment!

Today I checked out the apartment that will be my home beginning on Monday. It's in a monstrous complex with hundreds of units, but less than a fifteen minute walk to the school. Matthew, who is one of my colleagues, has lived there for the last eight months, spoke well of it. Measured against U.S. standards it's quite modest, but provides everything I really need. The Giver of Life has always blessed me with more than I need. I continue to learn about gratitude.

It's now Saturday morning. I have had a Chinese breakfast, talked to Sandy, checked my mail, and in an hour I am going shopping to get some of the essentials for my new digs. Guangzhou is big and busy, so I figure I am looking at 4-5 hours to find everything I need. For me, in the best of scenarios, shopping is akin to being cast into hell. Thankfully, the college sends a driver and one of my assistants to accompany me.

Eventually, I will post some pictures...

Enjoying the Adventure,

Bill


Thursday, April 11, 2013

No Mushroom Cloud...

I am in Guangzhou, China. My flights went smoothly--just long and crowded. No mushroom cloud appeared above the mountainous horizon that surrounds the airport in Seol, Korea. Thankfully, the over-sized version of "Spanky" didn't push the button.

Upon arrival in Guangzhou I was met by one of my new colleagues, Michael, and we began the process of talking through our goals and getting acquainted. His assistant met us at the school and she helped me navigate the ten-thousand signatures necessary to set up my personal banking. I also have phone service.

This weekend I am staying at a hotel right next door to the college. It's clean and comfortable and has all sorts of amenities. Most important it has a great internet connection! From my third floor window I can look out upon a gorgeous swimming pool that for several days has been getting a free refill from the heavens. No sun yet, but the climate in Guangzhou is subtropical, so it's coming.

Jet-lag has to be worked through (I slept fitfully and have been up-and-about since three this morning) as my body tries to adjust to the confusing phenomenon of being zipped through multiple time zones and then deposited on the other side of the world.

It's Friday here. Finally, in just a little while, I will be talking to Sandy on Skype. It is a godsend that she teaches at one of Georgia's finest high schools and has been extremely busy. Jeesh this separation is difficult. At the present, busy is good! We are going to make the most of all this!

In a few hours I am going to look at apartments and then on to several meetings. This weekend will be packed with the process of getting "settled."

Enjoying the Adventure,

Bill     

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Mornings...

It's our last morning to have coffee together for a while. Our routine is always the same. Sandy and I are early risers, and with rare exceptions we usually are up between 5 and 5:30 a.m. I wake up fully awake and find a lot of enjoyment in having the coffee ready for my still sleepy bride. We use the same cups everyday, and I always heat them with hot water before refilling them with steaming java. As we ease into the day, outside the songbirds begin to sing. First, one or two crooners, and then the crescendo of nature's full chorus.

This is a difficult morning...


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Guangzhou

I have no idea where to start, so I will just start. At 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday, I will board a Korean Airline passenger jet and stay airborne for almost fifteen hours in route to South Korea. From South Korea I will lift off for a four hour flight to China. On Thursday (China time which is 12 hours ahead of the U.S.) I will be in Guangzhou.

For our friends that have stayed in touch, this may come as a surprise. Upon returning to the U. S. last December, almost immediately I began teaching as an adjunct, in what what appeared to be a step to full time employment this fall. However, that did not come to fruition.

In January the possibility of returning to China was available, but I had put any thoughts of returning to China on the back burner and moved on. Then, within hours of finding out that there would not be a full time position available where I was teaching, I was contacted once again by the same school in Guangzhou, China. From there things began to fall in place.

This is probably the most challenging assignment I have ever undertaken. I will be directly involved in establishing an intense one-year program that prepares high-performing Chinese students to enter U.S. universities. I will work as a liaison between the U.S. and Chinese schools, provide curriculum and staff development, and do some teaching. There is a tremendous upside to it all. The passion that has guided my life and the skills I have learned thus far in the adventure, will need to be employed with abandon.

At this point, Sandy will remain in Columbus, GA. teaching at Columbus High School. After school is out in June, she will visit me in China for a month before returning to the US. The separation will not be easy, but both of us are confident that we are being called to sacrifice once again.